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Savage Peace


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About the Author

Ann Hagedorn has been a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal and has taught writing at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Her previous books are Wild Ride, Ransom, Beyond the River, and Savage Peace.


The year following any major military conflict should usher in an era of peace; however, the conclusion of World War I did not lead to a calm time on the American home front. In this chronicle of 1919, Hagedorn (Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad) uses vignettes detailing the activities of key individuals (both prominent and otherwise) to describe the year's major current events. Two major themes become apparent: for most Americans, the end of the war brought with it a fear of Bolshevik influence. It is through this theme that readers are introduced to a young J. Edgar Hoover managing the Justice Department's domestic intelligence network, which investigated subversive activities. Hagedorn also highlights the racial tensions of the period (including many lynchings) by noting in detail the work of African American leaders such as W.E.B. DuBois. This excellent, accessible book is recommended for public and academic libraries.-Michael LaMagna, Cabrini Coll. Lib., Radnor, PA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Former Wall Street Journal staffer Hagedorn (Beyond the River) makes a stylish entry into the history-of-a-year genre with this account of America in upheaval in the wake of WWI. In 1919, both the world and the U.S. were in need of reconstruction: soldiers returning from war needed jobs, and the influenza epidemic wasn't quite under control. Two threads Hagedorn follows are middle-class Americans' fear of Bolshevism, and the struggles of black Americans. U.S. Attorney-General Palmer instigated raids to try to root out leftist activists, and in what may have been "the State Department's first official interference in African-American politics," the agency denied black Americans' request for passports to travel to France and speak to the Paris Peace Conference about racial equality. In a year rife with lynchings in the Deep South, W.E.B. Du Bois, who had urged black Americans to shelve their grievances and fight the Germans, now argued that blacks, having served the nation, deserved to be accorded civil rights. Still, some exciting cultural developments presaged the roaring '20s: F. Scott Fitzgerald's star rose, and the nation's first dial telephones were installed in Norfolk, Va. This vivid account of a nation in tumult and transition is absorbing, and the nexus of global and national upheaval is chillingly relevant. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Savage Peace is Ann Hagedorn's brilliantly conceived, meticulously researched, and beautifully written biography of the year 1919. Now we have a historian who is up to the challenge of vividly demonstrating not only 1919's historical significance, but also its political and cultural relevance to us in the era of 9/11 and the Patriot Act. -- William M. Tuttle Jr., author of Daddy's Gone to War: The Second World War in the Lives of America's Children and Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919
Savage Peace reads like a wondrous and sprawling novel, except that it is all true. Thoroughly researched and insightful, it spins together the fascinating threads of 1919. And what a wonderful cast of characters! From Eddington to Einstein to Du Bois and Wilson, they all come alive. This book is so joyful you'll forget that it's serious history.

-- Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life and Einstein: His Life and Universe
Ann Hagedorn gives us a grand reappraisal of the American context for the Savage Peace of 1919. Everyone interested in the path to our present struggles and future alternatives will want to read this splendid and important book.

-- Blanche Wiesen Cook, Professor of History, John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York; author of Eleanor Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume 2, The Defining Years, 1933-1938

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